Hiring directors with one or two small indies on their resume to direct big-budget studio tentpoles seems to have become a norm in big studios nowadays with Gareth Edwards, Colin Trevorrow and now Jordan Vogt-Roberts being asked to direct a big-budget studio blockbuster. And while it’s something that’s done probably to minimize the director’s influence over that of the studio, it amazes me how much of Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ imprints remain on this movie.
First things first, Kong: Skull Island is a ton of fun. It’s no Godzilla and quite frankly, it doesn’t need to be. It recognizes itself as the enjoyable, B movie, creature feature it ought to be and does very well in accomplishing that. There are some truly breathtaking, and superbly staged sequences in there.
And I have to say I was genuinely surprised most by the visual flair Vogt-Roberts shows here. There are some shots, like that of Tom Hiddleston going into a toxic green smoke to kill these pterodactyl-like creatures, with a katana! while wearing a gas mask! that instantly became etched in my mind. Plus, the way Roberts and cinematographer Larry Fong use the colors green, yellow and orange is truly stunning and something to behold. The impeccable color-grading and imagery really did remind me of Apocalypse Now, a fair bit, something the film was clearly trying to do.
I also loved the idea of setting this thing towards the end of the Vietnam War and making the island and it’s creatures the focus. Because personally, I was never much of a fan of the King King story when it wasn’t set on the island.
Is it flawed? for sure. It’s full of stock characters that lack proper development and are there to either give exposition, drop one or two catchy one-liners or sell the movie on their ‘big names’. But that’s okay because movies like these aren’t really about these characters. And John C. Reilly almost single-handedly makes up for all those performances that fail to hit the mark (especially those of Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston) by simply being John C. Reilly.
Also, probably the best version of Kong I’ve seen on-screen. He’s pretty fucking huge too.